France urges Gbagbo to stop Ivory Coast bloodshed

31st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

France Thursday urged Laurent Gbagbo to stop bloodshed by his forces as he clings to power in Ivory Coast, after a UN resolution condemned attacks on civilians and called on him to step down.

"Laurent Gbagbo and those close to him must hear this message and stop shedding the blood of their countrymen," said French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero, referring to the UN resolution Wednesday.

Ivory Coast risks a full civil war as several towns have been seized from Gbagbo's control by forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, whom much of the world community recognises as the winner of last year's presidential election.

The Security Council on Wednesday imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Gbagbo, his wife Simone, and three of his closest associates, in its most explicit demand yet for Gbagbo to stand down.

It highlighted that the attacks on civilians could be crimes against humanity which can be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court and said a UN force in the country should act to "prevent the use of heavy weapons."

"For the first time, the Security Council is directly sanctioning Ivorian figures and condemning the use of heavy arms against civilians," Valero said.

"The members of the Security Council are offering their full support for peace and democracy in Ivory Coast. They are also sending a clear message to Laurent Gbagbo: he must respect the Ivorian people's will" by quitting, he added.

© 2011 AFP

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